By Eric Watkins, President, Abstract Marketing Group
Running a business is tough. As a business owner, you are responsible for strategizing, meeting quotas, managing finances, and countless other stressful and time-consuming obligations. Unsurprisingly, getting involved in the local community is often at the bottom of the priority list.
But have you ever considered how investing in your community can benefit your business in the long run? Dedicating your time, energy and resources can benefit your business in more ways than you think.
Why is it important to give back?
Every business, regardless of size, is an important part of the community in which it operates. Your contributions matter and they reveal more about your values than any bench sign or billboard.
Giving your employees opportunities to volunteer and give back communicates to everyone that your company doesn’t just care about increasing profits. This message goes far, which is why 47% of US companies already offer some sort of volunteer program for employees. When giving back becomes a priority, you boost employee morale, increase retention, and foster team building outside of the office. Hello, nice sync!
Creating a strong business culture of community involvement is also important. Not convinced? It’s free – yes, free! Positive publicity. As a good business owner, you strive to make a positive impact on the lives of your customers. Giving back to the community, whether through monetary donations or volunteering your time, will optimize your public image.
Community investing also provides great networking opportunities. Volunteering makes you an active part of the community, not just a passive component of it. You can also come face to face with your customers. All this helps in building stronger relationships with other businesses and increases engagement with customers. You never know when these connections will help you down the road or lead to client referrals.
Community helps community. When you invest in your local organizations and municipality, your business will reap returns.
Where should you start?
Now that you know the benefits of giving back, you may be eager to put a plan into action. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
Create a charity matching program. To encourage your employees to donate to causes they care about, consider matching their charitable contributions up to a certain dollar amount. Offer charitable vacation time. Give all employees a set amount of vacation time to volunteer in their communities. To boost participation, you can enter employees who record their volunteer hours into quarterly drawings. Create a company holiday dedicated to giving back. Organize a day where everyone in the company works at a nonprofit instead of in the office. Your employees will come back to work feeling satisfied and refreshed. Donate to a local organization or non-profit. Financial support can go a long way for local organizations. Find a local cause that aligns with your business values or mission. Support a local sports team. If you donate to a local sports team, its participants will display your logo or business on their equipment, field, or court. This promotion builds credibility with local customers. Sponsor a local race. Communities love 5Ks, and there’s probably an annual race in your area in need of a new sponsor. You can donate money directly or encourage your employees to volunteer or participate.
Use these ideas as inspiration for other volunteer opportunities. Ask your employees about organizations they already know and support. Whether writing a check or giving time, businesses that volunteer focus on what’s most important: helping their communities. Leaders who recognize this stand to build better businesses, stronger communities and a more meaningful legacy.
Eric Watkins is President of Abstract Marketing Group, a business development company providing lead generation solutions. He also brings together his ten years of sales and marketing experience to co-host The Grow Show podcast, making it easier for entrepreneurs and leaders to grow their businesses. In 2018, he earned Workforce Magazine’s Game Changer Award, and in 2022 he was honored as one of St. Louis’ 100 Titans.